Switchblade 29 Pro XT/XTR Reynolds Carbon Mountain Bike
With so many good bikes on the market it can be hard to narrow down the options when shopping for your next trail bike. Bikes have come a long way in the last five years, so much so that it's hard to find one that actually rides poorly. That's why we like to look for qualities that help a bike stand above its peers, and after spending some time on the new Pivot Switchblade we're convinced it has a leg up over the competition. Masterful suspension performance, an industry-leading carbon frame, dialed geometry, and eye-catching looks describe this versatile steed. 142mm of rear travel paired with a 160mm fork place it in the aggressive trail/all-mountain category, meaning everything from all-day trail rides to enduro racing and even lift-assisted bike park laps are within your realm. And with Pivot's unrivaled commitment to quality and meticulous attention to detail, you can expect to get the best possible experience out of every ride. Not to mention this particular bike comes with a race-worthy component spec, including Fox Factory suspension, Reynolds carbon wheels laced to Industry Nine Hydra hubs, and a mix of Shimano's venerable XT and XTR drivetrain.
At first glance you’ll notice that the new Switchblade looks very different than the previous generation. The clean lines and fresh colorways are aesthetically pleasing and are sure to draw looks when you're unloading the bike at the trailhead. You'll also notice that the shock is now positioned vertically and driven by a rocker-style upper link rather than the previous generation’s horizontal clevis design. This allows for a stiffer, lighter, and more compact frame while freeing up room for a full-size water bottle on all frame sizes. The rocker-style linkage also decreases the load on the shock and offers a more progressive leverage curve along with coil shock compatibility. Rear travel is boosted from 135 to 142mm for a little more forgiveness when the going gets rough, and every build kit comes with a 160mm travel, 44mm offset Fox 36 that brings comfortable handling and precise steering to the equation.
The Switchblade V2 geometry moves to a slacker head tube angle, a steeper seat tube angle, longer reach figures, and a shorter seat tube that accommodates longer dropper posts than the previous model. The 66-degree head tube and 75.5-degree seat tube may not go as far into the slack-and-steep realm as some other bikes in this category, but these numbers are thoroughly modern and hit a sweet spot that makes this bike a joy to ride on any trail—bet it tight and technical or fast and flowy. A two-position flip-chip lets you adjust the bike's geometry to suit the terrain at hand, but also allows you to switch between various wheel configurations including 29 inch, 27.5 Plus, and mullet (29” front/ 27.5” rear).
Perhaps the primary factor contributing to the Switchblade's positive ride quality is the DW-Link suspension platform. DW-Link’s position-sensitive anti-squat virtually eliminates unwanted suspension movement while pedaling, preventing your hard-earned energy from being lost to the suspension. On descents, the suspension has an active feel that maintains sensitivity when braking, and the slightly rearward axle path goes a long way toward smoothing out chunky descents and square-edged bumps. DW-Link bikes also ride high in the travel, reducing pedal strikes and keeping the geometry figures consistent for a predictable feel on the trail. Accompanying the DW-Link design is a Fox DPX2 with custom valving that's exclusive to Pivot. Pivot worked with Fox extensively to get the exact ride feel they were looking for on this new shock, namely increased support, greater responsiveness, and enhanced rear-wheel traction.
Balancing the suspension with materials that can handle the terrain, the Switchblade is crafted from a painstakingly precise mix of composite fibers and resin, then meticulously laid to create a frame that finds the happy medium of strength, stiffness, and weight. The chassis itself benefits from Pivot's hollow-core internal molding process for uniform, controlled wall thicknesses and material distribution. This process virtually eliminates inconsistencies and resin pooling, increasing structural integrity while targeting areas for weight loss. In addition to hollow-core molding, Pivot implements size-specific design and ride tuning on their frames. In essence, the carbon lay-up, tube thicknesses, and tube shapes vary a bit between sizes in order to maintain a consistent ride quality across all frame sizes. Simply put, it's the best way to make a strong and lightweight carbon frame with excellent ride feel.
Other details that set the bike apart from the previous Switchblade include removal of the front derailleur mount in favor of 1x drivetrains only. This allows for cleaner internal cable routing, and also a wider lower link that bolsters frame stiffness in this critical area. The new frame saves roughly 1/4lb over the previous model yet has increased torsional stiffness in the rear triangle and a higher overall stiffness-to-weight ratio. Other details include full integration with Fox Live Valve on top-tier build kits, mounts under the top tube for on-bike storage options, and a new chainstay protector that keeps the distracting sound of chain slap to a minimum.
This Pro build pairs a Shimano XTR rear derailleur with XT shifter, chain, and cassette. We've been thoroughly impressed with Shimano's 12-speed mountain group and its ability to shift crisply and reliably—even when the drivetrain is under load. Fox Factory suspension keeps your tires glued to the ground when the going gets rough, while the powerful XT 4-piston stoppers and meaty Maxxis rubber help you scrub speed before dropping into a rowdy chute. Reynolds Blacklabel carbon wheels bring responsiveness, reliability, and precise steering to the table, and the Industry Nine Hydra hubs offer a virtually instantaneous pedal response. Pivot also equips this bike with a Transfer Factory dropper with Kashima coating that matches the suspension, and ensures each frame size has the longest possible dropper that will still fit the full range of recommended rider heights.
- A modern take on Pivot's critically-acclaimed trail bike
- Travel gets bumped to 142mm rear and 160mm up front
- Progressive geometry with slacker head tube, steeper seat tube
- Vertical shock orientation now accommodates full-size water bottle
- Custom DPX2 shock offers improved support and bump-absorption
- Hollow-core molding process delivers a stiff and lightweight frame
- Reynolds Blacklabel carbon wheels with Industry Nine Hydra hubs
- XT/XTR Pro build with Fox Factory suspension offers race-worthy performance